CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Hotspot: California on the Edge
California Hotspot Regions Central Valley Vernal Pools Mediterranean Shrublands Sierra Nevada Cascade Range Volcanoes Redwood Forests Klamath-Siskiyou Wilderness

California Hotspot Regions

In spring they are splashes of vivid blue, yellow and white amid expanses of green grasslands. In summer they are uniformly golden brown and still. Vernal pools are seasonal wetlands that form where natural depressions occur in non-porous soils.

MEDITERRANEAN SHRUBLANDS
Diverse, Dense and Dominant

Mediterranean shrublands dominate California’s landscapes covering 8.5 % of the state. Globally, they hold more than 20% of the Earth’s plant diversity. Exposure to the sun, temperature, moisture and soil composition all determine what plants live there.
California is 1 of just 5 places in the world with a Mediterranean climate where these shrublands grow.

The Sierra Nevada, which means “snowy range” in Spanish, stretches 400 miles (644 km) along California’s eastern flank. It is bounded on the west by the Great Central Valley and on the east by the Great Basin. In cross section, the Sierra is shaped like a triangular wedge, with a much steeper slope on the east side than the west.

Volcanoes are dramatic evidence of Earth’s unsettled nature and are not randomly distributed over the Earth’s surface.  Most are concentrated on the edges of continents, along island chains or beneath the sea. Seventy-five percent of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes on land form a ring around the Pacific Ocean basin called the Ring of Fire.

They are the largest and among the oldest living things on Earth and stood as silent witnesses to millions of years of change.  Redwoods’ long history dates back over 200 million years to when the dinosaurs lived. The climate then was warmer and more humid and redwoods were more widely distributed across the northern hemisphere.  As the Earth’s climate became cooler and drier, redwoods gradually retreated to areas where abundant rainfall and stable temperatures provided refuge.

The Klamath-Siskiyou Wilderness is one the richest temperate coniferous forests in the world. Much of the extraordinary biodiversity is due to the fact that the region escaped extensive glaciation during recent ice ages. This provided both a refuge for many species and long periods of favorable conditions for species to specialize.

 

Exhibit Programs ›

California Hotspot Regions:

Central Valley Vernal Pools

Mediterranean Shrublands

Sierra Nevada

Cascade Range Volcanoes

Redwood Forests

Klamath-Siskiyou Wilderness

Conservatiion International: California Floristic Province